Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Invoking a Response

I work for an engineering company. There are females, but not that many of us.

One lady organized a lunch benefit for the OUR center, where everyone who wanted could come and paint a bowl for the Empty Bowls charity. You pay them $12 to paint the bowl and the bowl is donated to the OUR Center. Then people pay the OUR Center $15 to buy one of these painted bowls, get two bowls of soup, and a little entertainment from the music at the dinner AND a silent auction of the bowls that the organizers deem interesting enough to get more money.

They say "No artistic talent necessary", of course, and they have templates, stamps, stickers, and all kinds of stuff you can use to put paint where you want to put paint. I got this idea in my head of painting Longs Peak into the inside of the bowl, and sketched it onto paper from the windows here at Xilinx. Yes, we have a great view of the Rockies from here, and the nearest Peak is Longs Peak (==Longmont).

So we all gathered in the lunch room, and there was much paint swapping, and I got my pencil out and freehanded an approximation of the local Front Range onto the bowl and a bunch of people went "OOooooooooo..."

I thought, for a brief moment, about abandoning the whole project and stamping red stars, blue hearts, and... Uhm...

Oops. I gave up self-doubt for Lent.

Okay. I kept going. I painted in the blue sky, the golden fields in the bottom of the bowl, brushed brown heads of ripe wheat over them, then slapped thin coats of blue into the snow fields of the mountains, leaving the peaks quite white for the winter snow. I painted in the dark foothills, smudged green into their skirts, and traced lines of brown onto their ridges... and I was done with the interior of the bowl.

One of the technical marketers wandered by, "Do you folks know that you have pretty much the entire female population of this site here? It's hard to miss." There were guys with us, but very few, indeed, and most of the room was filled with women. Wow. It was interesting to realize that and that I was enjoying the time with the other technical girls.

I squinted at the exterior with its raised rim, and painted bright red all along the edge while I thought. I drew in a trunk, followed Sandra's advice and swiped a sponge dotted with brown across the trunk, and got a fair approximation of aspen lines and streaks against the white of the trunk, and then I growled at myself while I brushed in branches in all directions and then slapped orange and yellow "leaves" everywhere, some translucent over the trunk and dark branches. Then it was 1, and I had my 1:15 appointment with my massage therapist. So I dipped a sponge in Blue and slapped it all over the other half of the bowl's exterior. Quick! Done. It was actually quite pleasing having the flame colors all on one side and cool blue on the other.


There were mistakes all over the thing. A bit of red from the rim fallen off the rim, the snow fields weren't wedged right, there weren't grey-blues (just a palette of red, purple, blue, green, yellow, brown, and orange) for the shadows, and the tree was a parody of a tree...

Ahem. Whack.

But everyone exclaimed at it, and after I left for my appointment, John, who was also there, said that everyone was talking about my bowl. I signed the bottom with the character for Li, and whisked myself away so I wouldn't correct the poor thing into oblivion.

Now it's in the box with all the other bowls. A Mentor lady who had brought all the equipment and the helpers from Walmart had examined my bowl and considered it a true artistic achievement and said that she thought it would probably go up for auction.

I guess art isn't about being perfect. It's about invoking a response in others. It certainly got a response, many of them. And one person even asked John if it was supposed to be Longs Peak in the bowl... so someone connected to that resemblance I had tried to make. So that was very cool.

I'm supposed to be able to see a picture of my bowl next Tuesday at the shop. We'll see how it turns out.

Self-doubt Denials: 1

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